Life really is short.
What a true statement.
I only met Taylor Hawkins once briefly during the inaugural BeachLife, on the side of the stage before he played. I had made an empty promise to myself a few months earlier that BeachLife would not book any cover bands, so when we got the call that Taylor’s band Chevy Metal was interested in playing BeachLife, it put us in a pickle of sorts because of how much we loved his energy onstage. I replied whimsically that if they covered the iconic VanHalen album 1984 we were in, expecting a quick no to come back our way…and instead got an emphatic confirmation. Thirty minutes before he performed, I laughed with Taylor about the circumstances leading up that set and traded some adolescent childhood memories rooted in VanHalen soundtracks. To this day, I have had more people comment on Taylor’s performance than any other artist that performed the first year, and from my brief exchange with Taylor I truly understood his larger-than-life presence that I had heard about for so long.
But even though I didn’t know him well, Taylor’s passing hit me like a ton of bricks. Amazing performer, person, father, husband, friend – at the height of his life on so many levels – but human like the rest of us and gone at 50 years young. Perhaps my proximity in age had an effect, but I immediately felt a deep loss for his family, especially his children. Then my mind started to extrapolate that loss across the innumerable number of families that have also had someone irreplaceable leave this world too soon. I realize Death happens every day – but with each year that passes, I maneuver the backside of my life’s mountain with a more sobering understanding of just how fragile life can be.
At risk of sounding cliché, the intellectual challenge I find is staying conscious of life’s ethereal nature, but not letting it overcome my mind and bum me out. When we turn ourselves off to this consciousness, it feels like we quickly and unknowingly return to the road of daily minutia, forgetting to be kind to ourselves and others, forgetting to enjoy our lives, and forgetting to temper our culture’s appetite for efficiency and productivity with some good old-fashioned lazy hangouts. Life is so damn busy sometimes that I lose myself and my place in the universe, and its then that I think those who have left us too soon, like Taylor Hawkins, are looking down at us shaking their heads, disappointed that we aren’t taking advantage of the little time we have.
Then BeachLife happens. When I should be the most stressed, the opposite occurs. Before, during, and after the festival, I see hundreds of people working passionately to create a beautiful moment – not for themselves, but for others! Fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, lovers, friends, strangers…we all get together, put politics and meaningless topics aside, and we become human again. We listen to music, shake our bodies and feed our souls, creating community and culture and love. Each year I feel reborn as we all celebrate this fragility of life with happiness and nostalgia, feeling alive and connected…and human.
This year, when thousands of people are reconnecting in the most human way we know how, through the common language of music, we will do so in the spirit of remembering the energy and passion that Taylor Hawkins gave to us through his music. I hope we do his memory justice by celebrating the old adage – life is short – by realizing just how lucky we are to spend a couple of afternoons together on the beach enjoying the beauty of it all. I hope we make him proud. ~Allen
Remembering Taylor Hawkins 1972-2022.
photo by Brent Broza